Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Is this the Earliest Known Painting by Michelangelo?



Is this painting of Saint Anthony tormented by demons the earliest extant painting by Michelangelo? Keith Christiansen, a curator of European painting at the Metropolitan Museum in New York is convinced the work is indeed a Michelangelo. The painting in question would have been painted when Michelangelo was a young (12 0r 13 year old) apprentice in the established Florentine painter Ghirlandaio's workshop. Michelangelo's earliest biographers including Giorgio Vasari and his former student Ascanio Condivi describe how a young Michelangelo was inspired by an engraving of Saint Anthony tormented by demons by the 15th century German artist Martin Schongauer. Michelangelo freely created his own version of the composition providing richly invented colors and a Tuscan landscape in which the action takes place. Carol Vogel in the New York times describes how Met curator Christansen's detailed examination of the painting convinced him that the work was Michelangelo's earliest known painting:

"I looked at it and said this is self-evidently Michelangelo. There’s a section of the rocks with cross-hatching. Nobody else did this kind of emphatic cross-hatching.”



Attributed to Michelangelo
The Torment of Saint Anthony
c. 1487–88. Oil and tempera on panel, 18 1/2 x 13 1/4 in.
Kimbell Art Museum, Fort Worth
courtesy the Kimbell Art Museum, Fort Worth


Martin Schongauer
St. Anthony
engraving printed on paper 15th-century - German

Ascanio Condivi describes in his biography of Michelangelo how the young artist visited the fish market to study the detailed overlapping of fish scales to provide verisimilitude to his version of Schongauer's demons.




Attributed to Michelangelo
Details of The Torment of Saint Anthony
c. 1487–88. Oil and tempera on panel, 18 1/2 x 13 1/4 in.
Kimbell Art Museum, Fort Worth
courtesy the Kimbell Art Museum, Fort Worth

Michelangelo's Torment of Saint Anthony will be exhibited at the Metropolitan Museum in New York from June through August. The painting will then travel to its new home at the Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth, Texas. The painting will be hung alongside an edition of Martin Schongauer's engraving, reuniting inspiration and creation.

“It is now one of our greatest treasures,” Kimbell Director Mr. Eric McCauley Lee said. “And will receive pride of place in our collection.”


More at:
Earliest Known Painting by Michelangelo Acquired by the Kimbell Art Museum

By the Hand of a Very Young Master?

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